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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Women in the United States Congress: Historical Overview, Tables, and Discussion

Jennifer E. Manning
Information Research Specialist

Colleen J. Shogan
Deputy Director CRS

Ida A. Brudnick
Specialist on the Congress

A record 101 women were initially elected, and currently serve, in the 113
th Congress: 81 in the House (62 Democrats and 19 Republicans) and 20 in the Senate (16 Democrats and 4 Republicans). One hundred one women were initially sworn in to the 113th Congress—1 female Republican House Member has since resigned, and 1 Democratic House Member has been elected. This is higher than the previous record number of 95 women who were initially elected to the 111th Congress.

• The first woman elected to Congress was Representative Jeannette Rankin (RMT, 1917-1919, 1941-1943). The first woman to serve in the Senate was Rebecca Latimer Felton (D-GA). She was appointed in 1922 and served for only one day. Hattie Caraway (D-AR, 1931-1945) was the first Senator to succeed her husband and the first woman elected to a six-year Senate term.

• A total of 297 women have served in Congress, 193 Democrats and 104 Republicans. Of these women, 253 (163 Democrats, 90 Republicans) have served only in the House of Representatives; 34 (21 Democrats, 13 Republicans) have served only in the Senate; and 10 (8 Democrats, 2 Republicans) have served in both houses. These figures include 4 non-voting Delegates, 1 each from Guam, Hawaii, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

• A total of 33 African American women have served in Congress (1 in the Senate, 32 in the House), including 17 serving in the 113
th Congress. Ten Hispanic women have been elected to the House; nine serve in the 113th Congress. Nine Asian Pacific American women have served in Congress (8 in the House, 1 in both the House and Senate), including seven in the 113th Congress.

• Nineteen women in the House, and 10 women in the Senate, have chaired committees. In the 113
th Congress, 1 woman chairs a House committee, and 5 women chair Senate committees, with 1 female Senator chairing two committees.

This report includes a discussion of the impact of women in Congress as well as historical information, including the number and percentage of women in Congress over time, means of entry to Congress, comparisons to international and state legislatures, records for tenure, firsts for women in Congress, women in leadership, and African American and Asian Pacific American women in Congress. The report may reflect data at the beginning or end of each Congress, or changes during a Congress. See the notes throughout the report for information on the currency of the data.

For additional biographical information, including the names, committee assignments, dates of service, listings by Congress and state, and (for Representatives) congressional districts of the 297 women who have served in Congress, see CRS Report RL30261, Women in the United States Congress, 1917-2013: Biographical and Committee Assignment Information, and Listings by State and Congress, by Jennifer E. Manning and Ida A. Brudnick.

Date of Report: September 26, 2013
Number of Pages: 25
Order Number: R43244
Price: $29.95

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